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The Real Judge Begbie and the Uses of Historical Fiction

Marlyn Horsdal, 2015




Speaker 1 0:00
doesn't have to turn me on. I'm not used to all with and freight set me up with this lovely visual setup. So and I've never done this before either I use just wave my arms a lot. So I may forget, but I've got little notes to myself see photograph. Yes, thank you, Bob, for that lovely introduction. And thank you all for coming on this lovely afternoon. It's great to know that people are still interested in the good judge and he was a good judge, despite what what you may think. Now, what I'd like to do is, first tell you a bit about Judge Bagby sort of a thumbnail sketch of his life. And then I'll tell you a little bit about how I came to write the book. And then I'll read some passages from the book to show you what I mean by the uses of historical fiction, if that's okay, and then we can have questions and answers. I think that's what we usually do. So judge Bagby, Matthew Bailey dainty was the first judge in British Columbia and later the first Chief Justice. He came out from England in November 1858. And he practiced worked here until his death in June 1894. With one year off, he went home on leave to England. And that was when he was noted he did become sir Matthew. When he came out here, he landed in Victoria and they put him right back on the boat and took them over to Fort Langley because His first task was to proclaim the colony of British Columbia. This is the area that was formerly the Hudson's Bay, New Caledonia, none of the words the mainland of BC, and to proclaim James Douglas, the governor of this colony at this time, Begbie was 39 years old. He was born in Mauritius in 1819. His dad was stationed there with the British Army. And then he had his schooling on the island of Guernsey and the Channel Islands. He went to Cambridge and did his degrees in mathematics and classics. Then he went to London and read law at Lincoln's Inn, which is a classic kind of art for a guy of his class. And then he practiced law in London for some years. By all accounts, he had a very satisfactory career. His chambers were in what we would now call prime real estate in London, he had plenty of money, apparently, he took annual vacations and travelled extensively in Europe, in the Mediterranean and to Turkey. And he also worked as a law reporter for The Times, which Charles Dickens did to I don't know that they overlap, but they both did this dog. So he must have been that for 12 or 15 years. And then he applied to become the first judge of British Columbia. So we might wonder, well, since he was having such a nice life in London, why did he do that? And he didn't leave any records, but one assumes it was for a sense of adventure. He liked to travel. He liked hunting and fishing. And he probably thought quite rightly, that he would have more of that out here. Now, I'm just going to move this on. And let's see if I do it, right. Yes, here's judge Bagby shortly after he came to the colony. So you can see he was a very spiffy looking chap. He was very tall. He was six foot four or five, nobody's quite sure. And very strong. He, when he when he went on circuits because he did annual circuits, you know, to all the courts in the province in the colony and then the province and he liked to live off the land. He likes hunting and shooting for the parks. He chopped wood built fires cooked make bread. And he traveled however, you was necessary horseback canoe. He even walked 50 miles and 1863 He walked or would say hiked 50 miles through heavy snow from Cornell forks to Richfield to hold course. That's as I said he was he's a he was a big guy. Nice even sitting down. He's bigger than than these other two guys. The chap on the left of the screen on begbies, right is Peter Orion, who was a gold commissioner and then later an Indian commissioner and he was begbies best friend for the almost 40 years that that that he was out here till he died. And there's one other picture of him. Just a sec. That's right. I'll stop there at that. He was sorry. He would stop In a man of wide interests, he studied mathematics of course, and he liked math all his life he would work out little engineering projects. Well, I suppose not little but you know things like how what how was a bridge should be structured for the engineering for what it was going to carry. And he also was interested in the meteorological conditions, he traveled with a barometer and thermometers. And he took like there's pages of his meteorological observations. And also he was interested in landforms. And landscaping took detailed notes, which he then passed on to the Royal Engineers who were making the maps of the colony and the province. So his observations were incorporated into quite a few of the maps. He also was a very good linguist. He had Latin and Greek from his schooling, he spoke French. And when he came out here, he learned Chinook, which is the lingua franca, and also a couple of the First Nations languages because he wanted to be able to speak to witnesses in their own tongue. He was very, he admired and liked both the First Nations and the Chinese, which was quite unusual amongst some of the Europeans who came out here at that point. He lived first in New West, and then he moved to Victoria and live there for the rest of his life. He had a house built, what is it's now the corner of Cook Street and Fairfield road, if you can imagine that. There's now a gas station there and about a five storey older red brick apartment building, but that day, but there was nobody else around probably because he had to pay extra to have water piped to his his property, because he was a keen gardener. But you look south, you know, across what is now cooks, village to the mountains. And later in his life, he was very active guy, he always walked and rode and things, and he took tennis with great enthusiasm. So that's his life, that side. And his his work. He was, as I as I put in a little write up, he was never in his life called anything like a hanging judge. John Robinson, the newspaper editor and later premier of the province, who didn't like Begbie called him a tyrant, Judge, but he meant in his courtroom, he was very strict. He was probably very bossy, he was very determined to have proper procedure in the courtroom. So that was what Robson was commenting on. He didn't mean that Begbie was cruel or hasty, which is what hanging judge sounds like. So if he was such a great guy overall, and never a whisper of of nastiness in this court, how did he get this reputation? Well, four years after Begbie died, a guy called Edward Nichols wrote an article most fiction. An article in the magazine saying that Judge begbies is probably was supposedly took place in the interior, Judge Ben beef sentenced a man to death. And there were no sheriffs around to perform the hanging. So the judge got some rope and did it himself. And this is absolutely ludicrous on two counts. One is, as I said, Begbie was a stickler for proper jurisprudence. And this is not what judges do. In fact, he never was present at any of the hangings. And the other thing is that the press would have pilloried him, because there were a lot of newspapers in the colony at that time. And they watched his every move, like watched everybody's every move, because there weren't that many people were there. And they would have excoriated him if he had done anything like that. And there's no hint of it in any of the papers. So it's a completely false slander. But that's what suck because people like to believe bad things don't thing. So that's my little my thumbnail sketches just baby let me see if I make sure I told you everything I wanted to. Oh, the other thing I mean, nobody knows this. Why did Edward Nichols right, this nonsense about Judge Begley? Again, nobody knows. But maybe he because our history was pretty law abiding. And maybe he was trying to make it seem more, you know, glamorous or dangerous, more like the American Wild West. And maybe there was a story of a judge doing that in the states somewhere and he just tax Judge begbies name. Nobody knows. But that's a reasonable supposition that somebody might do that.

Speaker 1 9:57
So now the book How did The book come to be. Well, after I finished work on my first novel, it wasn't out yet. But I'd finished all the revisions and editing and stuff. I thought, you know, as one does, what do I do now? And I thought, I'd like to try a historical novel. For two reasons. I like good historical novels. I think it's a terrific way to learn history. You know, in a story, when you think of Wolf Hall, you know, the one about Cromwell, the Matthew Shardlake series, Jason Goodwin's mysteries that are set in Istanbul, you learned a tremendous amount of history from from good fiction. So there were SAQ. And then also, I've been editing BC history for decades, I've edited quite literally hundreds of books on BC history, so I've got ahead stuffed with it. And I thought, surely to goodness, I can think of a person or an event or something, to shine my little light on and bring to life. And to go back even further. About 100 years ago, back when the world was young, I edited the book about Judge Begbie, the biography by David Williams, the man for a new country, which is extremely well researched, thoroughly documented and very comprehensive about Judge begbies life. So you see, I always knew that he had never been called the hanging judge. And over the years, well, you know, if you're ever in a group of people, and somebody says the name Begbie, somebody else is bound to say, Oh, yes, the hanging judge, right. I mean, you've all seen that. So I eventually got so pissed off about this. I thought, right, I'm gonna have to do something about it. So I decided I would do an historical novel with Judge baby. So I thought of the plot and the characters and things. And I started and then I thought, Oh, I can't do this. Because I know lots about the history. I know what people did and all that. But I don't know any little homing details, like what kind of curtains did they have on the windows? Or did they stop for lenses in the morning? And if they did, what did they have cake cookies, you know, that kind of stuff. So I quit. And then a couple of months later, it occurred to me that I could write the story. And then if anybody say my editor wants to know what kind of herpes they had, I can do the research then. So I was happy about that. So I wrote a story and carried on and turned it in. And I'm happy to tell you too, that nobody has yet asked me anything about Kirkland. I did have to do some research on women's dresses, because one of the fictional characters in the book that to tell the story is what we would call today a fashionista. So I did have to learn about about fashion at the time. So the book is told in the voices of two fictional young English women who have both come out from England to live in Victoria. And it's told in alternate chapters, l&r Celia, Eleanor, Celia. Oops, sorry. And they're both in in the first person. You know, what happens and judge Begbie is a figure in both of their lives. He's a figure more in one of their lives and the other as those of you who have read the book, you'll know that I'm going to tell you about that now. And there are also other real people in the book other than judge Bagby. Everything Begbie does is true, he did. And although of course, I made up some dialogue. A lot of what he says is actually quotes from his bench books or his letters, or people other people's Memoirs of Bambi. And there are other real people sort of in big parts. Hannah Menard, the photographer, Peter All righty, who's still here. Agnes scenes Cameron, the first woman principal in the province in yeah in the province, Wellington, Delaney Moses, the black Barber of Barkerville. And I've been true to everything we know about those people when when they when they appear. It's set mostly in Victoria. Although Celia and her husband, go to Barkerville on one trip, Eleanor, who's one of the two women Eleanor and Celia, Eleanor was a debutante in London who was very naughty and she was sent out by her parents to live with her strict aunt in Victoria. She thinks of this as being banished and she's not pleased about it. And Celia is married to she's a little older. She's married to a curate at Christchurch Cathedral in Victoria. And she's very bright. She's interested in science. She's read Charles Darwin, and she's interested in the people and we're on a boat about her. So they're quite different. But they of course, meet in Victoria and they become best friends, which is quite likely, when you think of it, we all have friends who aren't like us at all. So Oh, and one little insight as to the writing of but I had written originally I'd written Eleanor in the first person, you know, I did this. I did that. And Celia in the third person, she did this. And then because I thought that the reader would be tired of if you know, that would be enough one in the first person. But my editor, I've had the same wonderful editor on both of my novels, Rhonda Bailey, Rhonda said, No, I think it'll work better if they're both in the first person. So my main big job of revision for this one was to go through all the Celia chapters and change all the Chiefs die, which wasn't too bad in terms of work. When the book came out, it was a review copy, of course, was sent by the publisher to The Times columnist who gave it to a guy to review who didn't like it at all. He didn't like the principle of my pudding, Judge Begbie in a novel, and he concluded the review by saying if she wanted to do something like if she wanted to write about Jennifer Bagby, why didn't she write a biography? Well, for two reasons. One, there's excellent biography that's already out. And why would I try to duplicate that, and to, you reach a different readership, a wider readership with fiction because people like stories, it's much it's an easier way to you know, absorb historical facts. So that's why I did it as a novel. And I just want to read do judge beg the judge because he didn't have any chips. This thing is here, and I keep bumping it to the bank, we didn't have any children. But his great, great, I don't have any grapes. Great, great, great nephew, Nigel Begbie, and his wife were out here a few years ago, and I got connected up with them. And after the book came out, one of his daughters, they live in London, one of his golfers boxing the book, and he wrote me this lovely note, which says in part, you certainly devised a most original way to tell the judges story. Dark, sorry, using lots of imagination, while remaining absolutely true to the words and spirit of the great man himself. Congratulations. I'm sure your book will enhance his reputation. But not sure, because people are still saying the hanging judge. But anyway, that was the aim. So now I'm going to read you a few passages from the book to show you, the yuku is nice. I've forgotten all these pictures. Okay, there's that one. Here. This is a shrinking party in the interior in 1867, loose Begbie second from left, you see he's, he does sort of power over people. Here again, this is a group of men in Barkerville. And here's Begbie the London front row on his right side, our left here. Okay, that's all of the pictures. Now, I just wanted to say also the difference between nonfiction and fiction. You know, there's an adage for fiction writers show don't tell. So with nonfiction like the David's biography of Begbie, you tell you lay out the facts and you tell the reader what the guy did and what's happened with fiction, you're supposed to show not tell you're supposed to show the reader what happens so that she or he can deduce for them for herself or himself what the facts are. So I'll just this this passage is from the first scene of the book. And this is I'll tell you who's talking and each time a fan this is some. This is l&r. Ooh, you know, it's a big deal. Oh, goody. Thank you. That's great. Thank you very much. You turned

Unknown Speaker 19:59
left on Okay, is it okay if these lights are off

Speaker 1 20:09
here's a few more pictures that I think you can see them acknowledging you're such a joy. Okay, this this is from the first scene of the book. On the day the chief justice sir Matthew Bailey Begbie was buried June 14 1894, I suddenly thought it might be time as last to reveal the whole truth of what happened 24 years earlier. So there's the hook you see to keep people going. The funeral was a sad event, but stately as any great man deserves. The entire population of Victoria seemed to be there lining the streets and solemn silence to watch the procession pass slowly by what and then judge Ben B have been tall, handsome, brilliant and compassionate. When the judges death was reported, one of his colleagues, Judge Henry creeps wept in court and said that sir Matthew had been, quote, a great lawyer, a close acute reasoner, a strong impartial judge, and a gentleman of large and generous charity. The service was at St. John's Church in Quadra Street and the internment in ROSS Bay beside the ocean. detachments of the artillery engineers and Marines marched ahead of the hearse. With the fire brigade, various The Neverland societies and too loud bands. The hertz was drawn by six horses and accompanied by 10 pallbearers, including the premier Theodore Davy, the carriages following the hearse were filled with bishops, senators, naval officers and mayors. And after that came the black break carriages of many private citizens. I think in fact, sir Matthew would have been displeased by all the pomp and pageantry, he had wished for a plain and inexpensive funeral devoid of any fuss, but himself sees citizens wished to honor him as well as they should. So you see, now they're in nonfiction you could say, when Judge Begbie died, he was much admired, highly honored. But in this case, I'm showing you the funeral procession and so you deduce Oh, wow, people really admired him look at all the bands and cavalcade them that attended the funeral. So there that's showing, not telling. And here's another short bit

Speaker 1 22:46
there this is still Eleanor, Eleanor is the flirt, that sort of flibbertigibbet. Well. They're sewn into my mind a memory of the first time I had seen judge Begbie in 1870. He sang in the choir of St. John's Church to which places of worship my uncle and aunt proceeded every Sunday taking Julia Caroline, their daughters, and me. As soon as I arrived with that, the church was a curious structure built entirely of iron and shipped out in pieces with the Royal Engineers to be put together on the site where it stood. In a rain storm, it was quite impossible to hear anything including the service. I was not accustomed to going regularly to church other than on the great festivals of Christmas and Easter, but I did not mind as I had decided to learn everything I could about my new abode. I had not chosen to come to Victoria, as I have said, and I was in a fury to begin with. However, I am cheerful by nature and knew that sulking and being resentful are not attractive characteristics in a young woman, or in any person for that Nazareth. I received it between my cousin's on my answer decree so that I should have proper models to follow. And when the choir came in, I was immediately captivated by one of the men. He was very tall, much taller than any of his fellow singers, with an elegant distinguished face and prominent eyebrows. His voice a deep bass could be heard apart from the others anchoring the whole ensemble. Stunned by his appearance, I whispered to Julia, who is that tall man that is judged Begbie but she caught a frowning look for her mother and said no more. A judge, I thought to myself, What a fine looking man. I wished to ask Julia, but I knew I would have to wait until the service was over. I was too freshly a part of the household to risk further displeasing my aunt by talking in church. So I stood and sang and sat and knelt, copying my cousins and the rest of the congregation, but only half of my attention was thus occupied. The other half was fixed upon The newest object of my interest. And Eleanor, of course, becomes quite crowded with Judge Begbie as those of you who have read the book will know. And that's all you probably know, the iron church was a real structure that was sent out, you know, with the whale engineers and it really was apparently interbranch to him. You couldn't hear a thing inside. And this is Celia, the wife of the corrupt. She's a very warm hearted person, she's always getting in trouble with her husband for being sort of unorthodox for a minister's wife. The next time I landed in difficulty was not in my house but in the center of town. After a committee meeting, for I have followed my own advice and busied myself with the church ladies. I remembered that I needed some fabric and thread and set off to the shops. My roots took me inevitably passed several saloons, and as I approached one of them, a young man staggered out the door and collided with me. My arms instantly shot up to hold him. He was very unsteady, and I planted my feet firmly for support. I realized he was inebriated. But I did not think that was any reason to let a fellow human being collapsed onto the boardwalk, or worse the street as we wobbled together with short steps back and forth trying for balance. I saw a very tall man with a dog and his heel striding briskly toward us. He was scowling. Has this fellow pops in you, madam? He grabbed the young man's shoulders and his strength was such that both I and the recipient of my aid immediately stopped rocking. The dog left out a low grello No, no, I gasped, straightening my hat. He simply fell against me and I was trying to keep him upright. Very beautiful, madam, but it just too late for that my benefactor smiled. He is thoroughly intoxicated, quiet reps, it is all right to the dog. I chuckled, enjoying his job, then, with a sinking sensation. I caught sight of two of the ladies from my recent meeting on the other side of this road, gaping acne. I ignored them. I know he is but I cannot allow him to fall. The young man between us was breathing deeply and gazing from one to the other. Can you stand now, man? Shall I let go of you? Yes, sir. Then you must thank this young lady for catching you and take yourself off to lie down somewhere, which he did. I looked up noticing for the first time that my rescuer had a strongly featured face with a high forehead Clear Penetrating eyes, bushy eyebrows, a scrape nose, and a well trimmed mustache and beard. And most effective men I thought from

Speaker 1 27:58
from the way he had held us up, he was evidently well muscled as well. So there you're seeing that he's a big strong guy and helpful and he and he did have dogs he had dogs all the time. He was always had the dog to atmosphere.

Speaker 1 28:23
Oh, that's the bar people picture. Yes. Okay, now, Celia and her husband go to Barkerville. They're sent up by the bishop and Celia goes around and looks around town and she meets up with Florence Wilson, who isn't another real person. She came out on the bride. She's one of the bride ships and didn't want to be a bride. And she would Barkerville and opened a vibrant lending library. So Celia goes to meet her and they go for a walk around town. We would all this is Mr. Sun, we would all like more contact with the outside world and the mail is still uncertain, although judge bang because the postal act to be passed last year. John Fahey seems to be everywhere in this colony. I met him in Victoria and I heard of him also in Cornell forks. He has been coming here every year for the past five or six years and spends nearly half of his time in the caribou. He officially opened Cameron where we are now. He and the gold Commissioner Peter O'Reilly founded the hospital up the road because they knew how much it was needed. The judge gave a lecture to raise money for it and donated a considerable sum himself. I think he truly feels part of this community. He speaks into a coconut language fluently, as well as Shinnok, which is the lingua franca of the Indian people. And he rents a cabin up in Richfield near the courthouse and he lives there during the Assizes scene. So this again was true back Bill spent a lot of his time up in the caribou because he said he really liked the outdoor life. And then Celia and Miss Wilson are talking one and they run into judge Bagby walking down the hill. Miss Wilson has told me that you spend much of your time here and the Goldfields. I said as we free proceeded, and that you presided as the official name your camera button wherever library is located. I do and I did. The judge replied, I knew John Cameron. He had the richest claim in the area that his is a tragic story. He had his wife with him as few miners do, a striking woman of whom he was very fond. In fact, he applied to transfer an interest in one of his claims to her and I approved it. I did not know that was legal. I thought married women may not own property separate from their husbands. I had often thought this structure was unfair. That's true, but I consider the law to be archaic on that score set judge Begbie women deserve a property rights equal to men and I have a certain influence in these manners in that these matters, the judge bench of satisfied glance on me, but sadly, it did Mrs. Cameron no good. She died of a fever only a few months before her husband became enormously wealthy. You probably know that story. It's true caribou Cameron and he took his wife's body back to Cornwall to bury it. It's all true. Even the Americans obey our laws here sadness. Wilson proudly, the caribou Sentinel said that Judge Begbie is the national quote at care to evildoers. And so he is I do not wish to be a terror to anyone that Judge remarked, but I will not stand for anyone floating the law. It is the basis of our civilized society. I wondered what you thought of the Indians who had lived here for so long. They must have their own laws, was there as a civilized society? When I ventured to inquire, Judge Begbie replied, certainly, I think the Indians are a fine people. They have far more intelligence, honesty and good manners and the lowest classes in England. Although their laws and customs differ from ours, they definitely have them. I had the sad pass last year of trying five of them for killing 21 white men over in the chokehold. And when I asked them what the law was against murderers, they told me death. So I said, our law was just the same and that's largely a quote from his bench books. He paused and a mournful expression was fed over his face. One of them clapped. Sasson was quite the finest Indian I have met with yet I detest the taking of a life any life. But in this case, a horrible example had to be set. The poor Indians were fearful of more cops coming into their area, because their villages had been devastated by it the previous year, however, that could not excuse all those murders. He sighed heavily. They need protection from us, and we must preserve their rights. And he really did feel that so you see, again, I'm not telling you what he said that I'm showing you he's saying that to Celia. I hope this isn't too long. Okay, there's only a few more. Oh, yes. Now, in 1874 for a second few 74 Begbie went home on leave, and he was supposed to be there for I forget eight or nine months. Anyway, he extended his his leave, and he runs into Eleanor the flirt, who has since married a naval British naval officer, they run into each other at a reception in England. And this is Begbie speaking. I am an England on leave and have been here for a year. In fact, I should have returned by now. But he bent his distinguished head to mine and lowered his voice. I was knighted by the Queen in October at Balmoral and received permission to extend my leave for that purpose. Pictures. Here he is all dolled up in the garden he wore when he was knighted. Yeah, it is a good picture. That's what's on the front of David's biography of Judge Bagby. And here's another one of the same. Same outfit not quite as good a picture. Back when I clasp my hands together, remember this you still flirt? I clasp my hands together and gazed up at him with great admiration. He had a little more light in his hair and beard and his face was perhaps sinner which emphasize his brilliant eyes. He was even more attractive and I remembered sir Matthew, I breathed. He smile It sounds a little strange still. And this is this is the same scene at the reception in England. Oh yeah. These days, they talk a little bit about the Pig War, you know, in 1872, that Pig War on Orcas Island, and this is Begbie. Well, we did not retreat from the island and occupied jointly with the Americans for 12 years until the Kaisers ludicrous decision was brought down in 1872. I am grievously disappointed. In the analysis I wrote, I discussed the rights of both nations and the difficulties of choosing a channel and an archipelago to be a natural national boundary. And I feel sure I made a convincing case for Britain. Now all that work will simply gather dust in the records, he concluded gloomily. Oh, surely not set I frankly, for scholars will refer to it over the years. But one of your more route, more recent work, do you travel as much as you used to? Certainly, I made my first circuit to the cassiar district in northern British Columbia in the August and September just before I came away on leave, and by job that is splendid country. We went up the Spokane River by canoe and on foot, and on to telegraph Creek and DS lake. I shot ranch and rabbits for our larger and we had Capitol meals. We were away for two months camping and admiring the magnificent scenery, and came back down by ship via the outer coast of Vancouver Island. It was a marvelous experience. I recall someone telling me in Victoria that it was the unusual genius of Judge Begbie to live off the land in primitive conditions and yet give his court the necessary air of impressive authority. By contrast, when Judge crease traveled, he took with him hams, bacon, roast chickens, clarity, so turned and champagne. This is true. It's a matter of record. The grand jury of the cassiar commented the judge Begbie had shown quote, shown the authorities that a judge can travel like any other detriment without superfluous revenue, and yet sustain the dignity of the court.

Speaker 1 37:17
Still Still enjoying the outdoor life obviously. Oh, and one more picture. We have that one. Okay, here, Judge Begbie in about the 1870s or 80s, tennis became a big popular sport in London and judge Begbie adopted it too. And he had three courts, as you can see laid out at his house. This is his house at the corner of Fairfield and and cook and he was a very keen player, not necessarily a great player, but a very keen player. And he would have the tennis parties three times a week all through the season and invite different people and Celia and her husband, the curate are quite good players. So this is Celia. Talking about tennis. Judge XNB was quick to tape up take up the game. He had three of the finest courts in Victoria laid out at his new house on the corner of Cook Street and Fairfield road and held popular tennis parties there two or three times a week throughout the summer. Herbert and I were frequently the recipients of his invitation cards because Herbert was a naturally good player and I turned out to be more active in the games and many of the other ladies than she has a match with a lady Mrs. Ward and they're chatting. Have you observed sir Matthews roses. They are particularly splendid this year. He has a most enthusiastic gardener agreed Mrs. Ward. He has a great variety of flowers and he enjoys experimenting with new species. He says that his man has a good knack with budding. His fruit trees are also doing well. The judges house which had been built in 1877 was a comfortable dwelling set on an expensive lot. It had spacious sitting rooms each bedroom had its own dressing room. And there were Apple servants quarters pantries, sculleries and a wine cellar. The gardens and lawns were so extensive and Sir Matthew was so devoted to the cultivation of his plants and trees that he had had to negotiate a special arrangement with Victoria City Hall for water pipes to the property and that's true. Sis Alton sir Matthews personal servants approached us with a trade bearing glasses of iced lemonade. Ah, this open good man. Thank you. And the judge reached for two glasses, Mrs. Turner. Oh, yes, please, I answered. Thank you. I am very thirsty. And thank you this autumn. As I said this, I was reminded of a lovely anecdote told to me by Susan crease, that author of another judge Henry crease. This crews had been invited to dinner extra Matthews home, among other ladies to meet the officers of a Russian warship that was visiting Victoria and she had described the scene to me. During the meal, one of the officers addressed the server rather peremptorily as Garson. And Sir Matthew said quietly, we do not call our man so, Noah said the eruption. How then do you call them christleton said Sir Matthew, this was too much for the strangers but they're mystified vexation was soon dispelled by our tactful host. This actually is in Susan creases memoirs, but I've made her say this Celia it was it was a direct quote.

Speaker 1 40:51
Oh, yes, no, I mentioned to you how how judge Begbie was very admiring of like we've showed you what he thought about about First Nations and then also the Chinese he was interested in here he was speaking with Celia. The poor Chinese, such good people. The three acts that Victoria passed recently are grossly discriminatory, restricting their immigration and their access to land and posing ahead tax. These are not the actions of a civilized society. We have become less tolerant over the past 20 years, I'm afraid rather than more. I have written to the Minister of Justice in Ottawa, asking him in particular to disallow the law prohibiting the Chinese from pre empting Crown land, that I am not hopeful. The Dominion government is not much more open than our provincial legislature, which which was true, and he did right and try to get them get the apps disallowed. I recall my conversation with the judge one evening Some months later, when I was reading the Victoria times, Judge David B and many other citizens had been asked to respond to 27 questions posed by a Royal Commission about the Chinese. I had seen the questionnaire and had been appalled by the prejudice in some of the wording. One question asked, Are they industrious, sober, economical and law abiding? Or are they lazy, drunken, extravagant or turbulent? This is a quote, I was sure the commissioners were hoping for support for the latter view. I am glad I was glad to see that the newspaper had printed Judge begbies Answer, which said in park, industry, economy, sobriety and law abiding this are exactly the four prominent qualities of Chinaman as a circuit by both their advocates and by their adversaries. If Chinaman would only be a little less industrious and economical, if they would, but occasionally get drunk, there would be no longer any cry for their suppression. Good for Judge vic vi crowed waving the paper at Herbert, because, of course, Celia agrees with all that. Now this is Eleanor, Eleanor, as I said, married an officer in the Royal Navy lived around the world. Then her husband died, and she came back to live in Victoria in 1893. And she's here she's talking to Big B, who, who had had a cough, which in fact, was cancer and he had gone to live in Kamloops for a few months, hoping that the dry climate would be good for him. However, in January, he bravely returned to court for the first time in months despite his physical pain, and was the object of heartfelt tributes from his colleagues, who must also have known that his time with them was drawing to a close. The premiere and Attorney General Theodore Davies said, quote, I cannot sufficiently express the gratification which we feel at your presence again amongst us to continue that unflinching and impartial administration of justice, which this country has enjoyed your hands for the last 34 years. From then until May, he kept working. And then he died in June. So we've worked almost to the end. And then, just as a final final piece, this is Eleanor again. For you, this is she's she's telling the stuff that I just told you earlier, four years after judge Begley died, I was enraged to read a disgraceful article in Canadian magazine by a purportedly believable writer named Edward Nichols, describing any event when the judge had himself performed a hanging in his ridiculous story, a man was found guilty of murder by a jury, but quote, no tariffs can be found to perform the disagreeable duty. Nothing daunted. The judge caused it to be known that on a certain day, the culprit would pay the penalty of death. Judge Begbie He entered the cell Pinyon the man and led him to the gallows and there and then the deed was done, and quote, even worse, parts of the sensible tale were later reprinted in our own Victoria colonists, which was called in those days. I could not believe my eyes. Nobody who had ever known sir Matthew could possibly think but such trash for any resemblance to the truth. And everybody I knew was as indignant as I was, I was also relieved, for I knew how gossiping tongues can ruin the reputations, and even the most operative citizens, which the judge had certainly been, and how people like to believe the worst of others. How sad would be if this nonsense solid his future thing, when its true legacy to us was a strong justice system, respect for the law, and an equitable, peaceful community. And as we know, that's exactly what happened. So here's just a little Lee bit from this is me now, this is the afterword about about this thing about about nickels. Between 1858 and 1872, after which Begbie conducted fewer murder trials. 52 men were charged with murder of home Oklahoma 38 were found guilty. Judge Ben beef successfully urged reprieve for 11 of those and unsuccessfully argued for clemency for several others, he was clearly neither malevolent nor vengeful. As a judge. He was known for his stern upholding the British law, and he certainly was firm and implacable for wrongdoers. But the man who successfully recommended reprieves for murderers convicted in US courts was not a hanging judge. There you are.

Unknown Speaker 46:55
Thank you very much. Any questions? Anybody in love with your judgment? Yeah.

Speaker 2 47:03
Just one question for you mentioned earlier young that was practicing law in London in England for a few years. I just wondered during that period, where the effects was he practicing as a prime minister or solicitor?

Speaker 1 47:21
Oh, you know, that's in David's book. And I can't remember now. Look it up for you. But I can't I can't remember at this point. Because it's different. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 47:32
The one on the right.

Speaker 1 47:35
I should have I should have checked that before I came to do this talk. Sorry. I can't remember. I know that it is

Speaker 3 47:39
in there. If you pass me the book, I'll look it. Okay.

Speaker 1 47:46
Jerry, no, never married. He never married he never had any women friends that people knew about. After his death that he left well, he left a bequest to some friends and to a woman whose name I can't remember now, who had lived in Victoria for a short while. And nobody knows why he left with the money. That dinner with her. She and her husband had had dinner with him once or twice and so nobody knows and even wonder did did he have an affair with this woman? Nobody knows. No, he never He never married? Too bad. Yeah. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 48:28
I've heard the story. And I don't know how you might recount the story involved a trial somewhere up in the caribou, I believe

Speaker 4 48:40
an Indian who was charged with some mischief, probably drinking cases, seething with, as I suspect that was the nature of the incident. And because he, he's underage to look, the guy needs a translator. But so they have translator but he was able to understand what the guy was really saying and what was going on. And does that trigger any awareness in your memory at all? That story not of any particular

Speaker 1 49:18
story me did interview the witnesses in Chinook or their languages, because you want to know exactly what they're saying. But I can't remember any that doesn't trigger any particular

Speaker 4 49:28
x in my mind because it tells us something about the nature of its anyway if you're guaranteed stolen somebody's property and and, and but he confessed that he was drunk or whatever. He didn't know what to do. And so anyway, he convention would have had him sent sentenced, but they let him off. With a conditional warning. He says I understand what your excuses This was never on record, he says, Don't ever that had happened to you. Yeah, I'm

Speaker 1 50:06
sure that's true. And there were there were there was something like that. That's in David Williams book and I can't remember the exact details. But there is one case I do remember from that where, where he sent his I forget what the guy had done. And he sent him some to get he got a fine of $50 something and the guy who's probably mindset, oh, no problem judge and hauled the money in his pocket and said here, and 30 days in jail. Have you got that in your pocket, too? I don't know if that that that probably not the same case. Okay, and you have to I just remembered one other thing. This was a judgment about about, they were trying to stop the boats from racing in Victoria Harbour, you know, when when the packet boats were coming in? And he said, You wrote the judgment said, in so many words. Yes. The boats never do race when they come into the harbor. However, they can stop trying to one to get ahead of the other.

Speaker 3 51:14
Yeah, you mentioned that he's covering? Victoria. When he goes into the interior. That seems a huge area. Where there have been other judges? Yeah.

Speaker 1 51:29
There were there. Yeah. Crease did judge crease. Some people number muttering other names? Yeah, there were there were a few other judge Begbie was the first judge in not the first judge on Vancouver Island, but the first judge in the mainland on the mainland. And then he became Chief Justice. And after that, then other judges took up some of the shorter segments. But no, as he said that the time when he went to the cassiar, for the first time now was in about 72 or three at 72 or three. So you still did do quite big circuits. But there were other judges who who who did that. And that's why they say he says, And David says in the book, Judge crease traveled with your champagne, and so turn and Pam and all this stuff and Begbie soft mousse was about he was a barrister. He was a barrister. Thank you very much.

Speaker 5 52:33
I just wondered if you had mentioned I think bench books. That's his personal journal about what happens in the court?

Speaker 1 52:44
Well, all judges and most ace, maybe she'll do kept bench books with all the details of the cases and his opinions and you know, all that stuff. Yeah.

Speaker 5 52:57
I mean, you so well educated well spoken to the not keep a journal of his travels to other places or

Speaker 1 53:02
a journal. Apparently, no, apparently not. No, he he did annotate his bench books a bit, especially with little drawings and things that he didn't keep any. And that's why we don't know. For example, we don't know really why he tried to come out. We don't know much about his travels. He doesn't seem to have been. He doesn't seem to have thought that his own personal life was important. It was his work. Maybe that's fine.

Unknown Speaker 53:34
Thank you very much.

Unknown Speaker 53:36
Thank you. Thank you very much.

Speaker 6 53:43
James Douglas and, of course, they were responsible for maintaining law and order in the colony of British Columbia. That was during the gold rush when the Americans are moving through. And that was made me who sort of was still the law and order throughout the whole province, which maintained a lot of the British traditions of today and sort of control the gun control and and all of the things that happened in the Wild West, and then Americans in the California gold rush. So these two gentlemen actually are responsible for maintaining the British institutions of our province, joining British Columbia Bank rather than you presented that very well as to them. Thank you very, very much. It was a very good presentation.